Israeli filmmaker Yuval Abraham faces death threats after condemning Israel at Berlin Film Festival

Menna Osama, Wednesday 28 Feb 2024

Yuval Abraham, an Israeli filmmaker and co-director of the documentary “No Other Land,” said he received death threats after condemning Israel onstage while obtaining the best documentary award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Palestinian Basel Adra, right, and Israeli Yuval Abraham receive the documentary award for "No other land" at the International Film Festival, Berlinale, in Berlin. Photo: AP



On Tuesday evening, Abraham wrote on X that a “right-wing Israeli mob” visited his home in Israel and threatened his close family members while he was away. This led him to cancel his flight back home, and his family fled to another town.

“This happened after Israeli media and German politicians absurdly labeled my Berlinale award speech — where I called for equality between Israelis and Palestinians, a ceasefire, and an end to apartheid — as ‘antisemitic’," Abraham further stated.

During his speech at the festival on Sunday, the Israeli filmmaker vividly compared his life to that of Basel Adra, Palestinian co-director of “No Other Land,” who lives under military occupation in Masafer Yatta, the West Bank.

Abraham highlighted the inequality that Adra faces as a Palestinian in an occupied land, contrasting it with the rights given to himself as an Israeli who lives only 30 minutes away from him.


Meanwhile, Adra said the Palestinian population was being "massacred" by Israel, a statement that garnered applause from the audience.

The US filmmaker Ben Russell was also accused of making anti-Semitic remarks on stage regarding Israel's war on Gaza.

Russell, wearing the Palestinian scarf, expressed his opposition to genocide and his support for a ceasefire.

Other award recipients and artists also showed support for the Palestinian cause, wearing Palestinian scarves.

However, German officials revealed on Monday that they would investigate how the Berlin International Film Festival allowed award winners to condemn Israel's war in Gaza at the event's closing ceremony on Sunday.

Moreover, Berlinale has referred to the artists' comments as "one-sided," adding in a recent press release that "the sometimes one-sided and activist statements made by award winners were an expression of individual personal opinions. They in no way reflect the festival's position."

Abraham described in the same post his labeling as “anti-Semitic,” saying: “The appalling misuse of this word by Germans, not only to silence Palestinian critics of Israel but also to silence Israelis like me who support a ceasefire that will end the killing in Gaza and allow the release of the Israeli hostages, empties the word anti-Semitism of meaning and thus endangers Jews all over the world.”

According to experts, the increasing use of the term “anti-Semitic” following the outbreak of the Israeli war on Gaza aims to “mute any dissenting voice,” to prevent anyone from criticizing Israel by equating it with supporting terrorism.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza has revealed that the number of Palestinians killed since 7 October has reached 29,954, while the number of injured individuals stands at 70,325. At least 76 Palestinians were killed and 100 injured in the last 24 hours. 

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